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After the events of January 6, Ginny Whitelaw calls on us to Remember Who We Are ~ January 2021

This past week, we at Chosei Zen have been in intensive training – winter keishin – made all the more intense by the week it was. The assault on the Capitol was given all the more context in the theme that Gordon Greene Roshi had us explore: how to face into the brokenness of our times? How to heal the rampant, greed, selfishness and fear that is tearing not only at our civility, but at our civilization?

There are no shortages of opinions or outrage on what took place; pick any news station and you can get your fill from morning to night. But I want to offer something besides an opinion or outrage.

I want to remind you who you are. Part energy, part matter. Part divine, part conventional. Part universal, part differentiated. Part interbeing with all of existence, part condensed into a seemingly separate self. The human being is a wondrous paradox, which is why a society based on only one side, namely, material, conventional separation, can never be ultimately satisfying or sustainable. That is the society of individualism and domination that we have inherited and perpetuated. It is not a society that honors the wholeness of the human being, but rather a society that rewards winners, even as it spits out many more losers. Those who win command the means to win further, while those who lose look for someone to blame, exploit, or vent their rage on. That’s not to justify or condone the actions of an angry mob, but only to say when people live in hell, they create hell around them. That’s the fact.

There are many calls for healing and hopes for healing as a new administration comes in and the tenure of a tyrant ends. But as many people are also warning, the forces of hatred that have been unleashed won’t end so abruptly. That much energy doesn’t just vanish. So what can we do, those of us called to heal relationships, create a more perfect union, build a better world? The word that keeps coming to me is “disarming,” and not through punishing domination (which is the tool of the autocrat), but through unity, remembering who we are. Disarming could be a skillful aikido-like move, joining beyond self and other, where the force of an attack is re-directed, a weapon is removed, and yet the attacker is wholly cared for. Disarming could be a smile, as in that of a child. Disarming could be the dismantling of my own defenses, which frees up something in another. Disarming could be a simple act of love. People who act from unity heal the divisions around them. That’s also the fact.

Remember your energetic, divine, universal nature, act from that, and others may be reminded of that truth in themselves, even if they don’t have words for it. And should you forget who you are, get back to the cushion and remember how to remember. We are a powerful community here to support you! Lead from the disarming truth of interbeing and we will re-build a society that honors not only what makes us different, but what makes us whole.  

Ginny Whitelaw is a Zen Master and CEO of the Institute for Zen Leadership

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early bird discount extended

Tough times call for strong leaders. To help you bring out your inner leader, we’ve extended our early-bird discount for Zen Leader and HEAL programs through February 5th.

All our programs are held safely online in a rich, experiential virtual environment. Our HEAL programs qualify for CME hours for healthcare professionals.

In ZL1/HEAL 1, March 4-7th, we will introduce Zen practices that will help you face your biggest challenges with more energy and a clearer mindset. You will explore your leadership style and discover ways to bring your vision of the future into your current reality. You will also learn new skills that will help you be a more resilient leader.

In ZL2/ HEAL 2, April 22-25th, we will continue the work and look at the fears that hold you back. Learning to work with fear instead of against it will shape your ability to resolve conflict, strengthen relationships and lead with confidence.

To help you get the most out of our programs, we are offering 2 coaching packages, that also have the 10% discount applied, that will pair you with a Zen Leader or FEBI coach. Learn more about Zen Leader Coaching.

Webinar: Hara Development Part 2

In this webinar from our sister organization, Chosei Zen, Kenneth Setsuzan Kushner Roshi will continue his discussion of the hara and its role in Zen, the martial arts and fine arts. This time, Kushner Roshi will focus on intermediate and advanced exercises that can help you deepen your breathing and make the transition from abdominal to hara breathing. If you didn’t participate in Kushner Roshi’s first hara development webinar, you can watch it here. You may also want to visit his Hara Development blog to get basic information on hara and familiarize yourself with the exercises he will be teaching. As before, this is will be a highly experiential webinar, and participants will be asked to practice the exercises as they are introduced. So, dress accordingly and be prepared to breathe!

The webinar (7:30-8:45pm CST) will occur immediately after evening Daily Zazen (7-7:30 pm CST). After Daily Zazen, we will switch to a different Zoom link for the Webinar. To participate in the Webinar, please register here. As always, a video will be recorded and placed online. Events through Chosei Zen are donation-based and open to all regardless of ability to pay. All donations are very much appreciated and help keep our dojos running!

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